Housing on the Hill. An Affordable Workforce Housing Effort
The Town of Easton currently owns six houses purchased through a Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund in an area that has become known as the “Hill”. An additional house is owned by the Housing Authority of the Town of Easton. These houses are located within a small four block area of the “Hill” where the slum, blight and demolition by neglect is apparent.
The Town’s goals are to maintain the historical significance of each house, thus preserving the historical significance of the neighborhood and provide homes that meet or exceed minimum livability and modern energy efficiency standards while still providing affordable workforce housing. The houses involved in the Housing on the Hill Project are; 305 South Street, 308 South Street, 323 South Street known as “The Buffalo Soldier House”, 31 and 34 South Locust Lane and 123 and 125 South Locust Lane.
A Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) totaling $800,000 is the funding source for the Housing on the Hill rehabilitation initiative. In order to access funds, each home’s restoration strategy is submitted for review and approval by the Maryland Historic Trust. As all of the home sites are located within the Town’s Historic District, the Historic District Commission must also review and approve each project scope.
The grant money allows for the full renovation of an initial four homes; 308 and 323 South Street and 31 and 34 South Locust Lane. The proceeds from the sale of each finished home will be reinvested by the Town into the completion of the remaining properties.
Community members have been stopping in to check on progress and everyone seems to be delighted by the progress and high-quality workmanship. The Housing on the Hill initiative is a win-win for all involved. The effort will help to revitalize a historically significant neighborhood and will be a model for how a town, along with Maryland’s generous grant support, can invest in its own historic preservation while providing affordable quality homes for its citizens. This is the definition of a successful community initiative.